Even though we reported a few months ago that New Line Cinema had acquired the rights to Robert E. Howard's famous sword-fighting Cimmerian Conan the Barbarian, it now appears that news was a bit premature. According to Variety, production/distribution company Millennium Films has finally won the rights to the character after New Line could not close the deal -- even after getting the exclusive right to negotiate for the franchise back in June.

According to the article, rights-holder Paradox Entertainment president and chief executive officer Fredrik Malmberg finally chose Millennium Films after extricating the rights from Warner Brothers last spring -- where the franchise had languished for several years under various directors including The Wachowski Brothers and Robert Rodriguez. With New Line unable to come to final terms this week, Malmberg went with Millennium in a seven-figure deal allowing the company to produce a slate of films based on the character.

Malmberg will produce the new films along with Millennium's Avi Lerner, Boaz Davidson, Joe Gatta and George Furla. The company intends to start production on the first of the films by next spring. Reading this news I have to say I'm a bit concerned. As a huge fan of the original Robert E. Howard books and many of the subsequent print and cinematic versions of Conan -- with the notable exception of Red Sonja -- I worry that the cinematic future of this great character is now in the hands of the people responsible for films like Alien Hunter, The Shepherd and Blonde Ambition.

Although, to be fair, Millennium has also turned out some good films too, including, um, well help me out here . . At least, according to the article, they say they intend to be more faithful to the original source material than the series of films featuring His Honor the Governor of California. I hope they stick to that and the films turn out great because the character and the story deserve it. Although, I have to say I'm not particularly optimistic about the chances of that actually happening.